Gareth Walker, the Championship correspondent of Rugby League Express, pays tribute to the North Wales Crusaders’ Clive Griffiths.
Clive Griffiths took charge of his final game as North Wales Crusaders coach against Whitehaven last Sunday. Fittingly his side marked the occasion with a victory as Gary Middlehurst’s late try helped them to a thrilling 22-21 win over the Cumbrians.
Griffiths will remain at the club in a new director of rugby role, with the club confirming Anthony Murray as the new head coach until the end of the season. Now seems like the perfect time to pay tribute to the work that he has done for the club.
Griffiths was the ideal man to take charge of the fledgling Crusaders at the start of the 2012 season. When he did so, the club was starting completely from scratch and had to recruit an entirely new team.
With the extensive list of contacts Griffiths had built up through a long career in both codes, he would have known more players than most. He and his assistant John Fieldhouse set up a trial match from which a host of players were signed from the amateur ranks, and have since gone on to make a significant impact for the club.
In their first season, North Wales established themselves in Championship One before making several shrewd additions to their squad for 2013, when they topped the competition to earn promotion and also won the ill-fated Northern Rail Bowl.
This season they have made a solid – if inconsistent – start to life at the higher level and certainly have a chance to avoid relegation, which would be a major achievement. Throughout all of this time Griffiths has also been an excellent ambassador for the club – having coached the Welsh national side he was already a popular and respected figure in his home country.
He will remain involved at the club under his new title while also focusing on coaching Doncaster Knights RU, who he also guided to promotion this year. Crusaders chief executive Jamie Thomas paid a fitting tribute to Griffiths.
“We are immensely grateful for the fantastic achievements Clive has made at Crusaders,” Thomas said.
“Pulling a squad together from nothing as we rallied to rescue Rugby League in North Wales from the ashes, achieving a creditable first year finish and then achieving two fantastic trophies in just our second year; Roy of the Rovers stuff.
“We’re delighted to retain Clive’s experience within the club, but the demands of being head coach of two teams, at the level he has got them to, is an incredible amount of work, pressure and a huge responsibility. There has never been once where Clive has let either role impact on the other, but the demands are growing and it’s only fair to all parties to look at the roles and workload.”